Oil Spill Class Action Defendant Blames Container Ships

Oil spill in ocean

Amplify Energy Corp. (“Amplify”), the defendant in the oil spill class action in which Larson serves as co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs and proposed classes, asserts container ships are to blame for the massive oil spill detected off of the Orange County coast in October 2021, Law360 reported in an article on March 1.

On Feb. 28, Amplify filed a third-party complaint alleging that the oil spill was “caused by damage done to the pipeline by two container ships, the MSC Danit and the Cosco Beijing,” Law360 wrote. “The Houston-based oil and natural gas company told the court the two ships’ anchors struck the pipeline months prior during a storm but that Amplify was kept in the dark about the impacts and therefore didn’t know the underwater pipeline had sustained damage until it saw an oil sheen atop the water.”

“Instead, Amplify says it wasn’t aware its pipeline had been struck until months later, when the Coast Guard’s investigation into the discharge ‘revealed the shipping defendants’ roles in the oil discharge,’ Law360 noted.

Amplify also asked the California federal court to dismiss the proposed class action claims “brought on behalf of residents and businesses alleging they were harmed by the spill” and were consolidated in December 2021 by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter. “That complaint accuses Amplify of negligence when operating the oil rig, violating a duty of care to the citizens of the state, being a private nuisance, and trespassing,” Law360 explained.

Larson’s co-lead counsel in the class action, Wylie A. Aitken of Aitken Aitken Cohn, told Law360 that he is “confident the resident and businesses’ state law claims will survive the dismissal bid.”

“As for Amplify’s claims against the shipping companies,” Law360 covered, “[Mr.] Aitken said the energy company wants the container ships to be ‘the’ cause of the spill but the residents and businesses’ information suggests the vessels were more likely a ‘contributory cause.’ [Mr.] Aitken said the allegations against Amplify and other responsible parties will continue to evolve as more information is uncovered about the incident.”

The Larson team serving as co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs along with Mr. Aitken and Lexi J. Hazam of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP includes partners Stephen G. Larson, Steven E. Bledsoe, Rick Richmond, and Paul A. Rigali, and associate Andrew J. Bedigian.

Read the full article by Morgan Conley of Law360 covering the third-party complaint here (subscription required).


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